5 Steps to Rewire Your Brain

Tuesday, 25 January 2011 12:55 PM

Would you like to lose weight but can’t seem to stick with a healthy eating program? Do you wish you could stop yelling at your spouse all the time? Have you been trying to quit smoking for years? Why is it so hard to change bad behaviors?
Any change is challenging, which is why most people tend to get stuck in habits. Our brains resist change because they can cruise on autopilot without much effort when we do the “same old things.” The brain simply gets comfortable with daily routines — even if they are unhealthy routines.
To change our habits, the brain has to be “rewired” with a whole new system. But it fights that process. However, change doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems. Here are five steps to help you rewire your brain so you can kick those bad habits.

Know your motivation. To make lasting progress, you have to know what’s driving you to be healthy. Ask yourself: What do you want to do?
• Prevent disease?
• Live longer?
• Be a role model for your children?
• Decrease your risk for Alzheimer’s disease?
What is your specific motivation to change? Write it down and put it where you can see it every day. If your motivation involves the loved ones in your life, put their pictures where you can see them.

Understand your pain. For many people, it takes something drastic, such as a heart attack or the threat of divorce, to inspire real change. Typically, you finally make the decision to change only when your bad habits cause too much pain in your life.
You need to understand why you are uncomfortable. Only then can you make the decision to change your brain and break free from unhealthy behavior. Think about how your bad habits have caused you pain. And again, write it down on a piece of paper.

You’ve gotta have hope. Hope is what makes you believe that you can change — and that your life will be better if you succeed in giving up your bad habits. Without it, you’ll never take the first step or be able to follow a program long enough to create lasting change.
What are the things that fill you with hope? Create a list of people, books, songs, or anything else that makes you feel hopeful about your ability to change your ways.

Find your passion. One of the keys to staying motivated is finding something to be passionate about, something that will keep you feeling energized and excited. You need to fall in love with something other than the bad habits that are making unhappy and unhealthy. For me, falling in love with my brain was a critical step.

Get in touch with your spiritual side. I am not necessarily talking about organized religion, although that can be very helpful for some people. Think of spirituality in the broader sense of feeling connected to something greater than yourself — a higher power, the earth, past or future generations, or your community.
Having a sense of belonging is an important step in the journey to change your ways. Many people believe their bad habits
affect no one but themselves. Wrong! Your behavior impacts your family, your friends, your community, and even your co-workers.
Feeling connected, rather than alone and isolated, instills a sense of accountability. Your actions matter when you feel accountable to a higher power, to your society, to your family, or to the others in your group — and it becomes important to kick your bad habits not only for your own good but also for theirs.

© HealthDay

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Tuesday, 25 January 2011 12:55 PM
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